Thoughts of a geek

17 January 2016

Christmas and New Year

Filed under: Photos, Travel — Tags: , , , , — qwandor @ 5:13 pm

I spent Christmas in London this year, so it was pretty quiet. I still find Christmas in winter weird, it’s all cold and miserable, and I find London winters hard. The afternoon of Christmas Day I went over to my friend Matthew’s place for Christmas dinner, which was nice. His parents and some of his siblings were visiting from Paris (they are originally from NZ, more or less), and there were a few other kiwis too.

I took the 3 days between Christmas and New Year off, and the Monday after New Year, and went away for just over a week to Bratislava, Vienna and Brno. The main point of the trip was to go to the Vienna Folk Marathon, but the flights worked out cheaper (and I thought it would be interesting to visit a couple of new cities) to fly into Bratislava on the Monday morning, spend the afternoon exploring the city, and catch the bus to Vienna that night. In Vienna I stayed with Thi, a university friend from Wellington who now lives there with her boyfriend, which was nice as I hadn’t seen her in ages. After the Folk Marathon I caught a train to Brno on the Sunday afternoon and spent a day and a half sightseeing there (and touring the cafes as it was too cold outside, -7°C with snow and wind most of the time) before flying back to London on the Monday night. My flight back was delayed almost an hour for de-icing, which meant I finally arrived home at about 1:00 am Tuesday morning.

On the whole it was a good trip, but cold. I caught one cold just before Christmas, which I was just getting over as I arrived in Vienna, then caught a second cold towards the end of the Folk Marathon, which made everything less fun. The other annoying thing was that it is still legal to smoke in bars and so on in Austria, and although most of the venues were supposed to be smoke-free for our events, there were still people smoking in almost all of them, which several times forced me to leave. I’d like to go back to Brno sometime warmer, as there was more to see which I didn’t because I was too cold and couldn’t stay outside any longer.

For more, see the photos: Bratislava, Vienna and Brno.

14 November 2014

Much dancing

Filed under: Me, Photos — Tags: , , — qwandor @ 5:23 am

I spent two recent weekends at two quite different folk dance festivals, neither of which I had been to before.

The first was Dance Around the World at Cecil Sharp House in London, and was quite varied. It ran all day Saturday and Sunday, with three streams of workshops plus one of performances during the day, and dances in the evening. It attracted mostly an older crowd, though a bunch of young people too, varying a lot from workshop to workshop. Some had 8 people, some 50. A few friends (including Jenny) also attended some or all of it. Highlights of the workshops for me were Irish Set, English Clog, Latvian and Greek, though the others were interesting too. (I also did the Polish, Lithuanian, Bulgarian, Bolivian, Tango, French, Caribbean Quadrille, Nineteenth Century Quadrille and Jamaican Quadrille workshops.)

Saturday evening there was a French (Balfolk) dance night which was excellent. Two great bands, lots of cool people, lots of great dances. Sunday evening there was an ‘Anglo-International Barn Dance’ which turned out not to be very interesting, and a swing dance night hosted by Swing Patrol which was alright, though there were not that many people. It was nice to have plenty of space and a nice floor though, and I did get some good dances.

The following weekend was Skint, which was excellent. It runs annually in a parish hall in Ashover, a bit south of Sheffield, and is limited to around 100 people. Tickets sell out in minutes. The name apparently refers both to ‘Scandinavian and International dance’ and the fact that it is really cheap (£45 for the whole thing Friday–Monday including meals and accommodation? Woah!) Dances are primarily Balfolk (French, which I really enjoy) and Scandinavian (which are also interesting, though not so much my thing), though with a mix of other styles as well. Workshops were all taught by volunteers; there were three at once during the day, usually one dance, one music, and the third either another dance or something different. We all took turns to cook and clean and ate all meals together. Each evening the main organised dance ran until around midnight, then there was midnight cheese (an excellent idea!) then more dancing in a smaller room with any musicians who wanted to join in playing whatever they felt like. Probably half the people there played at least one instrument, so there were never any shortage, and often the musicians outnumbered the dancers at the late night sessions. Dancing in the middle surrounded on all sides by a circle of 20 musicians playing all sorts of instruments was magical. There were a lot of great dancers as well, and I had a bunch of switch dances (mostly French schottisches and mazurkas) which was cool, trying to spread the idea. I ended up dancing until about 2:30 am on Friday night and 3:30 am the following two nights, so really did not get enough sleep, but it was worth it.

I took a few photos (also on Facebook) but Ben and David posted some much better photos.

On Saturday I did the Fandango, Contra, Polska, Irregular Waltzes and Sønderhoning workshops. On Sunday I did Playford, the first half of the Swedish waltz workshop, found I was not getting it so gave up and went to try singing Sacred Harp instead, “Out of Body Dancing” (which was a fun experimental workshop about connection and musicality, sort of) and Wallonian / Flemish. Monday did not have any workshops, sadly, mostly just cleaning up. All in all, an excellent weekend, and lots of new friends! I highly recommend it, and will be going back next year.

Skint 2014: Fiddlers in the sun

Now to decide whether to try Copenhagen Folk Marathon, and perhaps some Balfolk events further afield next year…

4 October 2014

Geotagging photos with Google Location History

Filed under: Computers — Tags: , , , — qwandor @ 12:14 pm

When I take photos on my Nexus 5, it automatically geotags them, which is great. However, when I am on holiday, I often use a proper camera with a bigger sensor and lens as it can produce better results. The disadvantage of this is that it does not have a GPS so cannot geotag the photos I take. Fortunately, I have Google Location History enabled on my phone, which records my location periodically. I use digiKam to manage my photos, which has a feature to correlate photos with a GPS track by timestamp. Here is how I use this to geotag my photos:

  1. Enable location reporting and location history on phone. In Android this is under Settings→Location→Google Location Reporting.
  2. Ensure camera clock is correct.
  3. Take photos.
  4. Go to the Google Location history web interface, select the relevant days, and click Export to KML.
  5. Convert the KML file to GPX with this GPS Visualizer tool. Unfortunately the converter has a bug: the KML file has a timezone of UTC-7:00 for all timestamps, but the converter ignores this and treats them all as UTC. We will have to compensate for this in the next step…
  6. Select the relevant photos in digiKam, and click Image→Geo-location from the menu. Load the GPX file you downloaded in the previous step. To compensate for the bug mentioned above, you will need to set the camera time zone option to 7 hours ahead of the actual timezone your camera was set to. So if you were taking photos in UTC+2:00, then set it to UTC+9:00.
  7. Click Correlate. Check that your photo geo-locations look correct. If they look wrong, ensure that you got the timezone right. If they look right but some are missing, try enabling the Interpolate option.
  8. Apply and Close. Done!

1 January 2014

Seven months

Filed under: Me, Travel — Tags: , , , , , , , — qwandor @ 10:14 pm

I really have not blogged much in ages! A lot has happened since May. Other than Morocco, let’s see:

A friends (Emily Swan) was in town for a few days in June, I caught up with her all too briefly for lunch. Wow, that seems so long ago. Briefly saw another friend (Jordan) around the end of June or beginning of July too.

European Blues Invasion was at the end of June, and was amazing. Lots of really great dances, learnt some new stuff (hmm, I suspect I have forgotten most of it by now), and got into switch dancing. Not quite the first time I had done any switching, but the first time I really got into it. Made a few new international friends too.

Sarah was in London for a couple of days in the middle of July. Jen got a group together to go along to the first day of the Ealing Blues Festival, which was fun. Lots of great music, and great weather for sitting out in the sun with a picnic. I think we paid £5 for the day, for probably more than 30 different bands. Babajack were particularly good. Our team offsite to Croatia was straight after that, which was also fun. I got sunburnt on one of my legs because I forgot to apply sunscreen before going white-water rafting, and of course spent several hours facing in the same direction with the sun shining on one side of me.

I enjoyed some of the free outdoor dancing over the summer, though did not make it to as much this year as in past years. I mostly just went to a few of the swing dance ‘picnics’ at the Victoria Embankment Gardens, which had a mix of DJed and live music.

I went to Belgium for a long weekend at the beginning of August; 2 days in Brussels with Aga, and 2 in Bruges by myself. Both were interesting to see. Alex was in London the following weekend; it was good to catch up with him briefly.

Daniel came to stay on his (indirect) way back to NZ from Germany. He was going to stay with some other friends, but they ended up being a long way out of London so he stayed at my place for almost a week instead. He came along on a walk from Salisbury to Stonehenge that a friend from church organised, which was fun. The weather was great, and we even ran into a medieval festival at Old Sarum along the way. We arrived at Stonehenge in the end with only a few minutes to spare, just half an hour before it was closing, as they were letting the last visitors in. An excellent day though: good bunch of people, nice walk, good weather, and a decent pub lunch in the middle. Right at the end of August I went on an ‘Alternative London’ walking tour with some friends and workmates, seeing some cool street art in Shoreditch.

In September I went up to Edinburgh for a weekend, stayed with Karoliina and went for some nice walks up North Berwick Law and along the coast from there, and in the Pentland hills. We found a few geocaches along the way, and sung Simon & Garfunkel songs.

Charlotte and Nicolai were in London, so I got to catch up with them which was nice.

Craig was in town at the beginning of October so came for lunch at Google. My cousin Brittany was in London for a full month, and stayed with me for her first few days, in the second week of October. I had not seen her in years so it was good to catch up. She kept herself pretty busy between sightseeing seeing a bunch of her friends. I went to David & Amber’s wedding, which was good fun. Had a few interesting conversations, and there was a ceilidh. (Strictly speaking they got married some time earlier for immigration purposes, but this was the ceremony to celebrate it properly.) My old friend Daniel was also in the UK in October, for military stuff in Wales, but came to London for a few days as well and stayed with me (overlapping with Brittany actually), so I was able to show him around a bit and catch up. And then Emily visited on her holidays, and we went to Cardiff, Bristol, Cheddar Gorge and Bath for a few days. At the end of October was the Morocco trip, which I have already written about.

Shortly after getting back from Morocco there was another blues dance festival, Blues Baby Blues. It was also good, though not quite on the same level as EBI. Unfortunately I caught something partway through so was not feeling great on the second day of workshops, and had to leave early that evening.

The annual London Jazz Festival was on in the middle of November, and I went to a number of the free gigs on both Friday nights and Saturdays. I managed to drag a few friends along to some of them, and others was on my own. There was a mix of excellent music and weird, but all good fun. I heard something like 12 or so bands in total, which was but a small fraction of what was on offer.

I went to a couple of thanksgiving dinners. One was hosted by Mark from work on Sunday 24th, which funnily enough was full of Kiwis: apparently one of his flatmates and quite a few of his friends are from NZ. About half the party watched the rugby, which I hear was pretty tense, but we won in the end. The food was good. The other was at Amber & David’s place, as one of the regular Thursday night dinners they had been hosting. There was going to be another Thanksgiving party on the Saturday as well at Gareth’s place, but it ended up being cancelled in favour of a belated housewarming party for Rachel and Dan. I grew a small moustache the last week of November for Joanna’s moustache party the same night, but ended up arriving after midnight so it was the 1st of December already.

Karoliina was in London briefly in December, and came to Google to catch up with people which was nice. I saw the new Hobbit movie with some workmates, and a Robin Hood pantomime with Rachel and some of her Morris dancers. We also had a Google eng-lon pantomime again; this year was Cinderella, and it was again very well done, with lots of funny in-jokes. There were two work Christmas parties as usual; the engineering one at the Millbank Tower, and the one for everyone at the Troxy, with a Christmas fun-fair theme. And Cheryl was back from New York for Christmas, so she also organised to catch up with a bunch of Googlers for brunch.

I took the Monday and Tuesday before Christmas off as I had to use the annual leave or lose it, and there were a couple of swing bands playing at the Royal Festival Hall to dance to. They also had the annual swing dance on Boxing Day, though only with recorded music sadly.

My flatmate Carla had her parents and sister visiting over Christmas, and invited me to join them for dinner on Christmas Eve, which was good, though a little hard to communicate as her parents do not speak much English. Went to a friend’s place for Christmas dinner, though did not stay too long as I caught a cold the weekend before and was not feeling great. Saw the New Year’s Eve fireworks with Carla and her sister, saw some of the New Year’s Day parade today (though it was cold and rainy so not many people came, and those who did did not stay long, so I left halfway through), and then here I am. Hoping the cold goes away soon.

Photos are in the usual place, and have a few more stories.

15 December 2013

Morocco

Filed under: Photos, Travel — Tags: , , — qwandor @ 5:32 pm

I planned to write this post straight after I got back, while everything was still fresh in my memory. Obviously that failed: it has now been over a month since I got back on the 4th of November. Anyway, Morocco! It was a great trip. I will see what I can remember. Photos are linked along the way, and tell more of the story…

I went to Morocco for 10 days with 3 workmates: Alberto, Joanna and Monika. We flew into Marrakech on the morning of Saturday 26th October, and spent the afternoon exploring the old town (Médina) and stayed the night in a riad there. Sunday morning until Tuesday we went on a guided trek in the High Atlas mountains (just the 4 of us, our guide Nouredine, a donkey to carry all our bags, and a man named Muhammad to look after the donkey). Our guide was Nour from Berber Travel Adventures, who I would highly recommend — he seemed to know everyone in the area, and was super helpful. The trek was the highlight of the whole trip for me, as we got to see quite a bit off the standard tourist trails. The hiking itself was not especially challenging, but it was really interesting seeing all the little villages. We walked from village to village, stopping to eat at places that I am not entirely whether were guesthouses of some sort or just people’s homes, but either way not anywhere we could have gone without Nour. The first night we stayed in Muhammad’s family home, and the second in a local guesthouse of some sort in a larger town. The accommodations were fairly primitive, but comfortable enough. In the first village we stayed there just so happened to be a wedding happening the night we were there, which we were lucky enough to be able to watch a little of. I think the bit we were able to watch was more of a party after the bride and groom had already left, described somewhat ambiguously by Nour as ‘a folklore’. Whatever it was, we went into the courtyard of a house, packed full of people (with lots up on the roofs around the outside watching as well, mostly women and children). There was a circle of men in white robes singing and dancing, and some watching, while women in colourful clothes and children watched from the other side. Men and women kept fairly separate the whole time.

The second day of the trek we passed by a small primary school in-between two villages, which we were also able to visit. It only had two teachers and two classrooms, so there was quite a range of ages in each class. We had a chat with both teachers, who unlike most of the people we had met up until then spoke fluent English. Unfortunately none of us knew enough French or Arabic to talk to any of the children. One of the teachers described finding it a difficult place to teach compared to the city where he had previously taught.

After the trek we spent another night in a different riad in Marrakech, then in the morning picked up a hire car to drive around some more of the country. Unfortunately when we got to the car rental agency (Dollar), they refused to give us the car we had booked and paid a deposit for without a much higher insurance excess than the contract we had agreed to said, which was not possible on the credit card we had booked with. After about 3 hours wasted arguing and waiting, we ended up getting a car from a different company for about the same price, which we were assured was four-wheel-drive, but which turned out (to our peril) not to be. Our late start meant we did not have much time for sightseeing on our way Skoura, where we spent our next night. We did however make sure to make time to see Ksar Aït Benhaddou, and spectacular and fairly well preserved old fortified city which is still inhabited by a few families. We also chanced across a great little juice shop in Ouarzazate called ‘Amsterdam’, where we tried some interesting juices after dinner.

The next day we drove up Dadès Gorge, and decided to try taking a 4WD track across to Todra Gorge as mentioned in a guidebook. We had some difficulty finding the track as it was not signposted at all, so took a guide to show us the way, which turned out to be very much for the best. The track was hard to follow in places, and a large section in the middle was completely washed out so we had to drive along a dry rocky riverbed, which was really not a great idea in our car, and we frequently had to stop to clear rocks or build little ramps. We made it through in the end, but many hours behind our overly ambitious schedule, so had to push the rest of our plans back a day as there was no way we would be able to make it to Merzouga in time for our camel trek originally booked for that evening. Anyway, as we were driving down Todra Gorge looking for somewhere to stay, who should we spot but Nour, our guide from the High Atlas trek! He happened to be sitting outside a hotel by the road taking tea just as we were driving past so we stopped to chat, and decided to stay in the same hotel. It turned out he was guiding another couple, and had taken a similar route to us. He gave us some more advice on routes to take for the rest of our trip, and we chatted over dinner.

The next day we made it to Merzouga in plenty of time, after taking a few hours in the morning to walk around Todra Gorge a bit. We joined a group of about 10 other people and rode our camels out into the desert for about 1.5 hours, stopping along the way to watch the sun set over the dunes, until we made it to the semi-permanent camp where we spent the night. We were happy to see it was fairly small, just 4 or 5 tents, unlike some of the much larger camps we had seen along the way. We had more tagine for dinner, chatted to the other tourists, and listened to (and joined in with) some drumming under the stars. The four of us also went over the nearest dune to watch the stars in the darkness, and they were certainly brilliant, but unfortunately by that point the wind had got up a bit so there was a lot of sand blowing in our faces and we did not stay out long. I was still finding sand all through my clothes and shoes weeks later after I returned to London. When we went to our tent to play cards we were surprised by a small bat in the tent, to which Joanna amusingly reacted by alternately cowering in the corner and trying to get up close to take photos.

We got up early the next morning to watch the sun rise, then rode our camels back to the hotel where we set out to take a (very welcome) shower and breakfast. It took several more showers to get rid of all the sand though. From Merzouga we had a long drive to get to Ouzoud Falls, where we arrived at our hostel around 10 or 11 pm only to find that they had not changed our reservation as we had asked, and so had quite some fuss until they finally found us a room with no working hot water various other problems. The next morning we had a walk around the falls, which were nice, then drove to Bin el-Ouidane reservoir for a quick look before heading back to Marrakech to drop Alberto at the airport.

Our original plan of going out to Essaouira to relax on the beach was not possible due to having pushed everything back a day, so we decided instead to spend our last night in the Ourika Valley, not far from Marrakech. We drove out there and looked for somewhere to stay, and were lucky enough to find the nicest hotel of the trip, a somewhat resort-like place with surprisingly large grounds but only 4 rooms (all fairly large, but still), only one of which was occupied. They gave us the largest and nicest room for a good discount. There was even a fireplace, which they lit for us! Fire is always fun. In the morning we had a guide from the hotel show us around some of the villages in the hills nearby, which was interesting, then drove back to Marrakech to catch our flights back to London.

Rather ironically, Monika’s Ryanair flight was on time, while the EasyJet flight which the remaining two of us caught was delayed by 3 hours, finally arriving in London some time after 2:30 am, well after the Gatwick Express for which we had booked tickets had stopped running. Still fighting EasyJet over that for compensation.

15 August 2013

Dwarves and hats

Filed under: Maths — Tags: , , , — qwandor @ 6:44 am

Well! I have been meaning to post this for quite some time. Here, at last, are four puzzles involving dwarves and hats.

Puzzle 1, perhaps the easiest:
(I heard this one from Josh Baker when we went for a walk in Otari-Wilton’s Bush earlier this year.)

There are 4 dwarves. A goblin (who hates dwarfs, as all goblins do) has buried them in the ground up to their chins, such that they can see directly in front of themselves but not turn their heads. They are in a straight line, but with a tall wall between dwarves 3 and 4. All the dwarves are facing towards the wall, so dwarf 1 can see dwarves 2 and 3, dwarf 2 can see dwarf 3, and dwarves 3 and 4 can only see the wall. Their tormenter has also put a hat on each dwarf’s head, such that they cannot see their own hat.

He then tells them that he has given two of them red hats and two of them green hats, and that if any one of them calls out his own hat colour he will let them all go free. However, if any of them calls out the wrong hat colour, says anything else, or makes any noise or attempt to signal the others, he will leave them all buried to starve.

Assuming the goblin is telling the truth about the hats he has given them, and will keep his promise, what should the dwarves do?

Puzzle 2, along similar lines and also from Josh, but more difficult:
This time 5 dwarves are buried in the ground, but they are in a circle so that they can all see each other. Again, each has a coloured hat which he cannot see, but this time they can all see all hats but their own.

They are told that they have each been given a hat that is either red, yellow, green, cyan or blue. It may be that they all have different coloured hats, or it may be that some of them (or even all of them) have the same colour. This time they must all call out at once what colour hat they think they are wearing, and if any one of them gets eir colour right then they will all be set free. If they all get the wrong colour they will be left to die. What should they do in this case?

Puzzle number 3 came from Emily:
There are 100 dwarves in prison. They were probably falsely accused of their crimes; it is a hard life being a dwarf, and the justice system is all biased against them. Anyway, they have been in prison for a while, and their jailer is getting bored, so she decides to play a game with them. She takes them all into a room, which contains nothing but a single light hanging from the ceiling, and a lightswitch on the wall to turn it on and off, and explains the rules to them:

“Once you leave this room you will all be put in solitary confinement. I will then bring you back in one by one. When I bring you back you may choose to switch the light on or off, or to leave it as it is. You will then go back to your cell, and I will bring the next dwarf in. I will keep on doing this until one of you tells me that e is sure you have all been brought back at least once. If e is right, then I will let you all go free. If, on the other hand, e is wrong and not all of you have yet been brought back to this room, then I will hang you all. I will bring you in in whatever order I feel like, at whatever speed I feel like, and will keep on doing so until one of you says something. I will not touch the lightswitch.”

She then takes them each to their cells, and begins her game. They all have identical grey prison-issue hats.

a) Assuming that the jailer leaves the light on when they leave the room, so it is on when the first dwarf is brought back in, what should they do?

b) If the dwarves do not know whether the light will be on or off initially, what should they do?

Puzzle number 4 is from Christo’s blog (but do not look their until you have solved it, as there are spoilers):
100 dwarves are in a line, so each can only see the dwarf in front of em. Each is hatted in either magenta or brown. They are told that they must each call out their guess at their own hat colour, but they can do so in any order they choose. If any of them says anything other than a hat colour, speaks more than once, or tries to look around or gesticulate e will be immediately defenestrated. Once they have all made their guesses those who got the right colour will be freed, while those who guessed wrong will be defenestrated.

Dwarves like to work together, so what should they do to minimise defenestration?

Interestingly there at least two quite different approaches to this, so see if you can get them both.

Comment below if you want hints or clarification. If you think you have a solution please email me directly so as not to spoil the puzzles for other people, and I will post a comment to confirm you got it. Feel free to post how many dwarves you think can be saved for puzzle 4 though.

(And yes, for all their flaws, these dwarf-haters do like to use Spivak pronouns.)

[Edit 2013-08-15: Corrected typo in puzzle 2.)

29 May 2013

A busy week

Filed under: Me — Tags: — qwandor @ 10:06 pm

Monday:
My phone somehow turned itself off overnight, despite having plenty of battery power left, so the alarm did not go off in the morning. I woke up at about 9:15 am. Whoops. Hurried to work and had a small breakfast at my desk.
Finally made muffins with Luca and some of her friends and flatmates. We made one batch of blueberry and cinnamon and one batch of lemon and yoghurt. Neither turned out right; they just did not cook properly for some reason. Neither of us had either recipe before, and they had some oddities. I think next time I will stay with recipes I am familiar with. They tasted alright, but just fell apart completely or were a bit stodgy.

Tuesday:
Had a couple of friends over for dinner. My flatmate Steph joined us too, which was nice. I do not get to eat with my flatmates very often sadly. I made a beef stir-fry, and apple scotch for dessert. Chatted about stuff.

Wednesday:
Worked late as I had things to finish for deadlines at work. Left work around 9:00 pm I think. Missed Springboard. Did not do much else.

Thursday:
Went to Blues in my Shoes. It was a bit different this week as they were having a sort of unofficial pre-party for London Swing Festival, so they played a mix of blues and swing, and there were a few people from out of town who had come for the weekend. A bunch of unfamiliar faces who were apparently new regulars as well — I had not been for quite some time as I was away in New Zealand, then was too tired, then it was on a different day, so it had probably been almost 2 months since last I went. I found the mix of DJed music a bit odd. They had Dan Nash playing later on though, which is always good.

Friday:
Was tired and knew I had a full weekend coming up, so did not do much. Did not go to the London Jitterbug Championships, though I heard they were great fun.

Saturday:
Day one of London Swing Festival. I did the intermediate/advanced track this year, which I think was the right choice. There were about 5 hours of workshops during the day plus an hour for lunch and a couple of short breaks. My workshops were in the Islington Assembly Hall, which is a nice venue but has an extremely bouncy floor. I have never been anywhere quite like it: you can feel people dancing on it from across the hall, and even see it bouncing if you watch. I wonder what its resonant frequency is? The workshops focussed mostly on technique, which was good. They were also mostly not too high-energy which was a relief.

I went home for dinner, a shower and a brief nap before the Saturday night dance at the Camden Centre. Saturday night was scheduled to finish around 4:00 am. I had planned to leave around midnight, but when I checked the time I found it was 1:30 am, so that did not quite work. It was excellent fun though, good music (Steve Coombe’s Hot Six playing, plus the usual DJs), and lots of great dances. The only problem, other than it getting very crowded for a while in the middle, was that the Camden Centre has an extremely slippery floor. I started off in my (leather-soled) Aris Allens, but after a few dances of struggling to keep my balance and not slip over I gave up and switched to some rubber-soled shoes. My dancing improved quite a bit once I no longer had to worry about falling over.

Sunday:
Got to bed a bit after 2:00 am, got up at 8:45 am wishing I could stay in bed. Day two of LSF, with workshops during the day again. The weekend was nice and sunny, still not that warm but it was nonetheless pleasant to eat lunch in a little park nearby. The evening social was in the Islington Assembly Hall (with the bouncy floor) until midnight, with the Basin Street Brawlers playing. I was thinking of going straight home afterwards, but decided to go to the afterparty for a bit as it was at the Bedroom Bar, not too far away. There was of course an enormous crowd queueing for the bus, so I walked down to Angel and Boris-biked from there, which did not take too long. There was more swing playing downstairs and blues upstairs; I went straight upstairs as I was already half asleep. Lots of great dances, or at least I think they were — I am not entirely sure whether being that sort of tired makes my more relaxed and a better blues dancer, or just makes me feel like I am. But hopefully it was the former. Ended up leaving around 3:15 am I think, Boris biked home, and got to bed at about 4:10 am, as it was starting to get light outside and the birds were waking up. I arrived home feeling kind of hungry, so had some yoghurt and other things from the fridge. Celery and hummus maybe? Could not quite be bothered slicing cheese. Fortunately Monday was a bank holiday…

20 May 2013

7/7: The Rainbow Connection

Filed under: Me, The Blog Roll — qwandor @ 1:07 am

(Day 7 of an effort to blog every day for a week, alongside a bunch of blogging friends.)

The Rainbow Connection has been going through my head all day. Humming the tune to myself in time to my steps as I walk down the street.

Went to church in the morning as usual, the 11:30 am service. Matthew was there, with a friend of his who is visiting from NZ for a couple of weeks. The sermon was about spiritual gifts, among other things, from I Corinthians 12:1-11. I disagreed with some of the implications made by Rico Tice; it is a pity that there is never much of an opportunity for discussion. Oh that I could find the perfect church!

Afterwards I walked down Oxford Street and through Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens to a pub in Kensington for lunch to celebrate Fi‘s birthday. She was a bit late to arrive (for the fairly reasonable excuse that it was her first day getting around without a wheelchair, just crutches), but fortunately I was able to find two of her friends who were there already. In the end 6 of us got there before her, to much amusement. ‘Twas good to catch up a bit, and chat to a few nice people, and the food was good too. I had a tasty beef and bacon burger.

Afterwards I caught a bus down to Clapham Junction to catch the end of an afternoon swing-dancing fundraiser a friend was running for a movie she is going to be involved in making. I got there in time for a bit of dancing, said friend singing a couple of songs (she has a great voice, I had not heard her sing before; she has a number of videos on Youtube though, such as this one), a duo on ukelele and banjo playing a couple of songs for everyone to sing along to, an amusing short act by two Victorian time-travelers, and then a band playing a great set for us to dance to. The band was more rockabilly than swing, but great fun and very energetic. They did throw in one more bluesy tune in the middle which was nice. It has been much to long since I have done any blues dancing, I really need to get back into that! There were some tasty homemade cakes on sale too; I had a bit of ginger cake and a macaroon. It was a good afternoon, but exhausting.

Afterwards I bussed home, had some ryebread with cheese and marmite, did a load of washing, and called my mum to walk her through the process of moving her new harddrive from her computer to my old computer (which is marginally newer and hopefully less noisy, and had been sitting in the basement unused for the past 3 years). The only complication was that apparently for some reason my computer names its Ethernet interface eth1 rather than eth0, so we needed to update a config file accordingly. And GRUB is giving an error message ‘out of disk’ on a cold boot, which goes away after resetting. Rather odd, but at least there is a workaround for now. Has anyone come across anything similar before? This is GRUB 2, and it is booting from a 1 TB SATA drive. What little information I can find online seems to suggest it might be something to do with the BIOS not liking large drives, but that does not explain why it works on the second try.

Watched the final episode of this series of Doctor Who on iPlayer. It was alright. I have not been impressed with this latest series on the whole, especially the second half. Hopefully they will find a new writer to replace Steven Moffat sometime soon. He did start off well, but seems to have run out of good ideas.

Bedtime.

19 May 2013

6/7: No tea

Filed under: Me, The Blog Roll — qwandor @ 1:00 am

(Day 6 of an effort to blog every day for a week, alongside a bunch of blogging friends.)

I was going to be making muffins with a friend this morning, but sadly that fell through. I slept instead. Finally got up at about 11:45 am. That is the most I have slept in in a long time. Perhaps needed though, I had not been getting enough sleep lately.

Did not do anything terribly productive. Bought groceries for Tuesday’s dinner-party. Ate the left-over pizza in the fridge from Monday’s dinner which I had forgotten about; it was still mostly edible, if a little stale (or soggy, in one part. That was weird.) Washed some clothes and my towel. Did not quite get around to doing the vacuuming I had planned to do. Made a smoothie, and the blender leaked.

In the evening I went out to a contra up in St. Albans. The caller was excellent, and the band were decent, but it was almost all old people which was a pity. My attempts at getting people from London to come along were not very successful, only Gareth came. Still, mostly enjoyable. The train back stopped at Blackfriars so I Boris-biked from there, and got home some time after midnight.

I wonder when I will watch tonight’s Doctor Who episode. Certainly not tonight, it being 12:55 am, and probably not tomorrow night either. Maybe Monday.

Things to be done: vacuuming, selecting and cropping a passport photo, working out how tall I am and what my eye colour is called, sleeping, writing a blog post about dwarves, finding a new time for muffin-making, thinking about plays to go to, organising travel plans for the summer. What else have I forgotten?

18 May 2013

5/7: Eurovision is not terribly exciting

Filed under: Me, The Blog Roll — qwandor @ 12:32 am

(Day 5 of an effort to blog every day for a week, alongside a bunch of blogging friends.)

Friday! Busy day at work, as it has been since I got back.

This week’s TGIF (our Friday afternoon drinks) were Eurovision themed, which meant various Eurovision songs playing in the background, flags hanging from the ceiling, and food (supposedly) from various different European countries.

I left to have a nap at home before going up, but I only ended up with about 10 minutes to nap in the end. Went to an English ceilidh I sometimes go to, which happens once a month at Cecil Sharp House, the home of the English Folk Dance and Song Society up in Camden Town. For some reason there were not many people there this month, only about half to a third of the usual number. And only a couple of people I knew. Still, decent fun. Decent band, good caller, younger than most of the usual ones. Nothing particularly out of the ordinary. I do tend to prefer the contra a lot more these days.

Bedtime soon, I just need to send a few messages organising next week’s dinner party.

Doctor Who finale tomorrow! And the St. Albans contra, if I go to that. And maybe muffins in the morning.

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